Sunday, September 30, 2018

Paradise found in Papua New Guinea

Bestowed with stunning natural creations and rich cultural traditions, Papua New Guinea entices visitors like no other

Anjaly Thomas
Sep 29 2018
Deccan Herald

Two reasons can take you to Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the Oceania — diving or Kokoda Track. My reason was the latter — a 96-km-long killer track with a reputation of being attempted only by the ‘brave’. Fully aware of the dangers, I plunged into the tropical rainforests of Papua New Guinea, and for 11 days, pushed myself beyond every imaginable limit, and emerged on the other side intact, but determined never to attempt anything like that again.

An aerial view of the islands in Papua New Guinea

So once back in the capital Port Moresby, fondly called Pom Town, I set about understanding why Papua New Guinea was the new tourist hotspot. PNG has over 7,000 different tribes, each with their own language, and Port Moresby is the entry point to the country, ideally located on the coast and perfect for exploration of the rest of the country.

A word of caution. Papua New Guinea is still considered a dangerous place to visit, but the good news is that the tourism industry is slowly growing. Beautiful nature hikes, scuba diving and kayaking are the top attractions in this island nation. Although tourism infrastructure is lacking, you cannot ignore the fact that the country offers incredible sights and activities for those wishing to explore.

My first destination was Bomana War Cemetery (BWC), the resting place of about 3,200 servicemen from World War II, killed in action in Papua and Bougainville. BWC, about 20 km from Port Moresby, is a well-maintained and the only cemetery in the country to contain white marble headstones. Memorial services for Anzac Day are held here on April 25 every year. I knew very little about the importance of Anzac Day, till I walked on the Kokoda Track, which still bears the scars of the fighting between the Japanese and the Allies.

Next on the cards was a visit to Port Moresby Nature Park, a botanical garden and zoological park that is home to hundreds of animals, including kangaroos and reptiles, and it’s the only rainforest track in the city. Particularly fascinating was walking through rows of native plants and orchids. To truly understand the orchid variety, a visit here is a must. There are over 10,000 orchids in the park!

Towards evening, I headed to a local market in Pom Town. It was like walking back in history — there was nothing ‘modern’ about the market — just picturesque stalls selling food, local crafts, paintings, traditional carvings. I returned with wooden masks and meri blouse (traditional dress): loose-fitting, and comfortable but a fashion disaster, and stuffed to my gills on taro and cassava, which my hotel receptionist told me was “the thing to do anyway.” It was she who put the idea of visiting the Parliament House into my head. “You can see the birds later,” she said. With a phone call, she arranged a tour of the Parliament House and the next morning, I found myself with a guide and permission to enter the building.

It is said a passionate guide can make or break your impressions — my guide influenced my opinions favourably. The gardens and orchids are fabulous and so are the flags that represent many different tribes in the country. Fortunately, the Parliament was not in session, so we could easily look into the floor of the Parliament. The grandeur of the building was hard to ignore, but pictures are forbidden, not even discreetly!

The city of Port Moresby is charming in a rather quaint way. Nightlife is decent and a few good restaurants have cropped up in the recent past, a sign that PNG is gearing up to welcoming more tourists in the near future.

It is amazing how much of the country is still unexplored and you often get the feeling that it is a civilisation yet to be discovered. From tropical birds to vibrant colours, cultures and tribal traditions — everything conspires to make you fall in love with the place.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

PM thanks flight crew and rescuers , caution against rumor and fake news

 Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has expressed his gratitude to the air crew of P2-PXE, and local Micronesians who came to the rescue of passengers, for their quick response in the evacuation

He made the comments after aircraft P2-PXE 'landed short’ yesterday in the Federated States of Micronesia, and warned people on social media to be vigilant
against rumors and fake news.

"Any aircraft crash in any part of the world is alarming, and ultimate concern above
property is the safety of human lives,” O'Neill said.

"I commend the crew of P2-PXE for their swift action to evacuate passengers.

"I especially thank the people of Micronesia who were very quick to move in with boats
to the aircraft and assist passengers as they evacuated.

“Micronesian safety and security services were also swiftly on the scene, and
passengers were quickly assessed and attend to at the hospital.

“We thank our Micronesian brothers and sisters for their response and care following this accident.

“The health of passengers is being monitored and arrangements for temporary accommodation is being arranged, and soon travel will be facilitated to their chosen ports."

O'Neill said the initial concern for the Government and the airline was the
safety and wellbeing of passengers, and people should be wary of misinformation.

“Now is not the time for speculation or rumor, let’s wait for the facts and further
information from the airline.

“Air accident investigators will be undertaking a thorough examination of the incident and the causes being identified.

“I call for people to be careful with what they re-post online.”

Friday, September 28, 2018

Air Niugini update on crash

Bulletin number 2 issued at 3:00pm, date: 28.09.2018

Air Niugini provides the following update regarding the short landing of its Boeing 737-800 series aircraft at Chuuk International airport, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) this morning.

P2-PXE was operating scheduled flight PX 073 between Pohnpei and Chuuk Airport in FSM when the incident occurred.

The incident occurred at 10:10am FSM local time. 

Air Niugini has been informed that the weather was very poor with heavy rain and reduced visibility at the time of incident.

The aircraft had 35 passengers and 12 crew members onboard, all of whom were able to safely evacuate the aircraft.

Air Niugini is now positioning assistance to Chuuk for our passengers and crew.

We are also in touch with the embassies, passenger representatives, stakeholders and families of the crew.

We thank everyone in Chuuk for the assistance provided today.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the passengers, crew and their families at this time.

Following are the media call centre numbers.

PNG Media Call Centre: (675) 327 3378/ 327 3221
International Media Call Centre: +1 407 205 1814 

UPDATE: 8 passengers aboard Air Niugini Flight 73 hospitalised

by Kevin Kerrigan and Gaynor Daleno | The Guam Daily Post,
September 28, 2018

Forty-six people aboard Air Niugini Flight 73 miraculously survived after the flight fell short of the runway on Weno International Airport in Chuuk this morning and landed in lagoon waters.

"No serious injuries ... Everybody is alive!" Jimmy Emilio, the airport's manager, confirmed by phone to The Guam Daily Post.

When the plane went down, a lot of local boaters and the local rescue team immediately rushed to the crash site, Emilio said.

"Everybody is safely off the plane," he added.

He said the passengers and crew were transported to the local hospital and as far as he knows, no one was badly injured.

Dr. Siana Shapucy, the Chuuk State Hospital's acting medical director, said at 2 p.m. Guam time Friday that eight people were hospitalized. One was on a ventilator while some of the other patients had various fractures.

A video reposted by Eriko Rekis on his Facebook page shows many boaters immediately responding as the aircraft hit the lagoon water, and helping passengers get off the half-submerged plane and transporting them to safer ground.

The aircraft is a Boeing 737, Public Affairs Manager Ian Gregor for the FAA Pacific Division confirmed.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cuttter Washington, which happens to be in nearby waters, is heading to the crash site to help. 

Air Niugini Flight 73 travels between Chuuk and Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. The flight was to take two hours and 40 minutes.

Air Niugini is Papua New Guinea's leading airline, with more than 20 destinations nationally and 10 internationally.

A United Airlines flight from Guam that was scheduled to land at the same airport in Chuuk has been diverted to Pohnpei.

A team from Auckland, New Zealand en route to Weno to try and salvage the plane.

This is a developing story.

The changing face of Lae


Lae City, the industrial hub of Papua New Guinea,  is experiencing a building boom.

The new Bank of PNG Building being constructed along 3rd Street, opposite Lae Post Office,  is nearing completion and should be open for business before end of this year.

The new Bank of PNG Building being constructed along 3rd Street,  opposite Lae Post Office,  is nearing completion and should be open for business before the end of this year.~Pictures by SAMPSON BONAI

Papindo Supermarket has constructed a new look two-storey building along 7th Street to replace the old one that got burnt down in 1995.

The brand-New Papindo Shopping Centre along 7th Street.

Eye One Shopping Centre is a new two-storey building constructed at the site of the old Huon Theatre.

Eye One Shopping Centre is a new two-storey building at the site of the old Huon Theatre. It has become one of the busiest shopping venues in Lae.

It has become one of the busiest shopping venues in Lae. 

The old Wan Jin Wah shop at 7th Street is dwarfed by the towering Papindo Shopping Centre and the adjoining Victoria Supermarket.

The iconic Wan Jin Wah shop along 7th Street   is dwarfed by the towering Papindo Shopping Centre across the road.

Two new modern shopping complexes are being built at the Main Market area. 

Lae Plaza is situated along Aircorps Road near Bank South Pacific and Lae Shopping Centre is situated along Kisere Street behind Bowmans Hardware.

Lae Plaza offers the people of Morobe that heightened shopping experience right in the heart of Lae City. It has three stories of shops and self-contained units.

Rapid progress on high speed internet cable connecting PNG with the world

Australian High Commission

The Australian and Papua New Guinea Governments are progressing rapidly with the project to deliver the new high speed Coral Sea Cable that will connect Port Moresby through Sydney to the global economy.

On Sept 27  2018, marine survey vessel the RV Northern Endeavour visited Port Moresby to survey the area where the cable will connect to Papua New Guinea’s mainland.

Local media had the opportunity to go on-board the vessel to see the facilities, meet the crew and understand more about the process for delivering this key nation building infrastructure.

Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis was pleased to mark this important milestone.

He said, "Australia is delighted to partner with Papua New Guinea in delivering this key nation building project.

"This project has the potential to be truly transformative and I am excited to be able to celebrate this important step towards its completion."

The RV Northern Endeavour is at the start of a journey to map out the path the cable will take between Port Moresby, Honiara and Sydney.

Not only does this preliminary planning ensure that the installation of the cable is as efficient and cost-effective as possible, it also provides assurance that the impact of the cable on Papua New Guinea’s pristine marine environment is minimised.

The Coral Sea Cable will significantly improve Papua New Guinea’s internet connectivity, allowing businesses to access new markets, students to harness new learning opportunities and communities to reach out to other countries and people across the sea.

It is a very tangible symbol of Australia and Papua New Guinea’s enduring partnership as well as both nations’ strong commitment to growth and prosperity in the region.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Australian men's and women's Prime Minister's XIII annouced

The Hon Scott Morrison MP
Prime Minister

In conjunction with the National Rugby League (NRL), I am pleased to announce the Prime Minister’s XIII squads which will take part in annual games against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby on October 6.

 The PMs XIII concept is an annual fixture which was first established in 2005 to help PNG celebrate 30 years of independence.

This year, in recognition of the surge in female participation in rugby league, a PMs XIII squad for women has been named for the first time.

The squads will be led by experienced and exceptional rugby league coaches and captains.

World Cup winning Jillaroo and Indigenous All Stars captain Rebecca Young will captain the women’s squad which is coached by Brad Donald.

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles skipper and Queensland Origin representative Daly Cherry-Evans will captain the men’s squad which is coached by Mal Meninga.

The squads will arrive in Port Moresby next Thursday and are being supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

While I would love to be there to cheer on both squads, I will be following the games very closely from home.

I’d also like to congratulate the players who have been selected to play for the PNG Kumuls and Orchids and wish all teams the very best.

Australian PM’s XIII Men’s Squad:

Corey Allan (Brisbane Broncos)

Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Penrith Panthers)

Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)

Jake Clifford (North Queensland Cowboys)

Nick Cotric (Canberra Raiders)

Tyson Frizell (St. George Illawarra Dragons)

Ben Hunt (St. George Illawarra Dragons)

Brian Kelly (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)

David Klemmer (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

Zac Lomax (St. George Illawarra Dragons)

Jordan McLean (North Queensland Cowboys)

Tyrone Peachey (Penrith Panthers)

Matt Prior (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)

Jesse Ramien (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)

Reece Robson (St. George Illawarra Dragons)

Gehamat Shibasaki (Brisbane Broncos)

Chad Townsend (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)

Jake Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)

Enari Tuala (North Queensland Cowboys)

Aaron Woods (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)

Australian PM’s XIII Women’s Squad:

Keeley Davis (St. George Illawarra Dragons)

Quincy Dodd (Sydney Roosters)

Sally Dwyer (Parkes Spacemen)

Aaliyah Fasavalu-Fa'amausili (Cabramatta)

Najvada George (Werribee Bears – VIC)

Rikeya Horne (St. George Illawarra Dragons)

Melanie Howard (St. George Illawarra Dragons)

Asipau Mafi (St. George Illawarra Dragons)

Talesha Quinn (St. George Illawarra Dragons)

Michaela Peck (ADF)

Patricia Raikadroka (Mounties)

Rhiannon Revell-Blair (Brothers Ipswich)

Hannah Southwell (St. George Illawarra Dragons)

Sarah Togatuki (Sydney Roosters)

Shakiah Tungai (St. George Illawarra Dragons)

Juraea Turner (Ellenbrook Rabbitohs – WA)

Holli Wheeler (St. George Illawarra Dragons)

Eliza Wilson (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

Rebecca Young (CRL Newcastle

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

PNG Kumuls squad to play PM's XIII named | September 25, 2018

St George Illawarra winger Nene Macdonald, Cronulla hooker James Segeyaro and Canterbury back-rower Rhyse Martin head a strong contingent of NRL and Super League  players named in the Papua New Guinea squad to play the Australian Prime Minister's XIII in Port Moresby on October 6.

Macdonald, Segeyaro and Martin are among six NRL players in the 18-man squad, which also includes Catalans fullback David Mead and Widnes Vikings prop Wellington Albert.

Cronulla and PNG hooker James Segeyaro©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Other NRL players are Melbourne winger Justin Olam, Sydney Roosters playmaker Lachlan Lam and North Queensland five-eighth Kyle Laybutt.

The remaining players are drawn from Queensland's Intrust Super Cup and include Easts Tigers hooker Tom Butterfield, Souths Logan Magpies centre Daniel Russell and eight members of the PNG Hunters team.

The squad, which is largely comprised of players from this year's Pacific Test and the 2017 World Cup teams, will assemble in Port Moresby this week, with Lam and Olam to arrive after completing commitments with their NRL clubs in Sunday's grand final.

The annual clash between the Kumuls and the Australian PM's XIII has been moved as PNG Hunters players were unavailable last year due to the Intrust Super Cup grand final.

PNG Kumuls squad:
Daniel Russell – South Logan Magpies (Intrust Super Cup)
David Mead – Catalans Dragons (Super League)
Edene Gabi – PNG Hunters (Intrust Super Cup)
Enock Maki – PNG Hunters (Intrust Super Cup)
James Segeyaro – Cronulla Sharks (NRL)
Justin Olam – Melbourne Storm (NRL)
Kyle Laybutt – North Queensland Cowboys (NRL)
Lachlan Lam – Sydney Roosters
Moses Meninga – PNG Hunters (Intrust Super Cup)
Nene McDonald – St George Illawara (NRL)
Nixon Putt – PNG Hunters (Intrust Super Cup)
Rhadley Brawa – PNG Hunters (Intrust Super Cup)
Rhyse Martin – Canterbury Bulldogs (NRL)
Stanton Albert – PNG Hunters (Intrust Super Cup)
Tom Butterfield – Easts Tigers (Intrust Super Cup)
Watson Boas – PNG Hunters (Intrust Super Cup)
Wellington Albert – Widnes Vikings (Super League
Willie Minoga – PNG Hunters (Intrust Super Cup)

Improve tourist attractions in PNG to attract more tourists, says ADB

Asian Development Bank

The number of people visiting Papua New Guinea increased by 166% in the 10 years from 2005 to 2015.

However, a new brief from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) warns that continued visitor growth is not inevitable and that government action is needed to help attract more of the lucrative tourist market.

Despite the high growth in visitor numbers, tourism revenue in PNG remains low compared to other Pacific countries.

 The ADB brief, Tourism as a Driver of Growth in the Pacific: A Pathway to Growth and Prosperity for Pacific Island Countries, offers a number of recommendations, including some specific to PNG, to help the country grow its tourism sector.

As a first step, it recommends the national tourism policies be reviewed with a view to increasing visitor numbers and spending.

It also recommends fostering tourist attractions around the country, such as developing Madang as a tourist destination, especially for cruise ships, and increasing Mount Wilhelm’s tourism potential by improving access to it.

The brief also says restoration of the Baiyer River Sanctuary could attract tourists to the area.

The brief identifies tourism as a unique opportunity for economic growth in the coming decade that could help Pacific island countries self-sufficiently fund national objectives, such as improved health services, education and transport.
Along with generating employment and income growth across the region, tourism development can serve as a catalyst for the protection and preservation of natural and cultural assets, the brief notes.

Visitor numbers across six Pacific countries examined have increased by almost 50% in the past 10 years, but the brief warns that continued tourism sector growth will not happen automatically, and that its benefits will continue to be unevenly distributed unless governments take action.

The brief recommends countries create an enabling environment to facilitate tourism growth and maximise its benefits.

This means investing in infrastructure, human resources, and product development and marketing, as well as ensuring that tourism policy, strategy, and the regulatory environment are designed to grow the sector sustainably.

“While many Pacific countries are using tourism effectively to generate income and employment, opportunities exist to expand and increase its benefits and ensure its sustainability,” said Rob Jauncey, Regional Advisor with ADB’s Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office.

“As Pacific countries develop and pursue strategies to grow their tourism sectors, ADB stands ready to offer insight and advice, and provide technical assistance, finance, or coordination support.”

The brief was produced by ADB’s Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI), a regional technical assistance program undertaken in partnership with the governments of Australia and New Zealand.

PSDI works with ADB's 14 Pacific developing member countries to improve the enabling environment for business and to support inclusive, private sector-led economic growth.

It has operated in the region for 11 years and assisted with more than 300 reforms.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Garaina police infrastructure goes to the dogs


POLICE infrastructure at remote Garaina in Bulolo is rundown and needs to be urgently renovated.

Lone Garaina policeman Steven Sep pointing to the partly burnt police station building there. It requires urgent maintenance work.~Pictures by SAMPSON BONAI

Police reservist Steven Sep, who has singlehandedly maintained law-and-order in Garaina for the last 15 years, said the Police Department has forgotten about Garaina.

"Police infrastructure such as housing and the police station are completely rundown," he said.

"It's not fit for any policeman to live in and perform policing duties in Garaina.

"The four two-bedroom police houses are completely run down with leaking roofs, broken walls and flooring.

"The houses, which were built during the colonial era, have not seen any maintenance work being carried on them for many years."

Sep has had to use his own money to purchase materials to maintained the house.

"There is leakage in the  roof and whenever it rains we always put empty pots under to collect water," he said.

Lone Garaina policeman Steven Sep with his wife and children in front of their rundown two-bedroom police house there.

The lone policeman said the  crumbling police station was far worse.

There has been no maintenance whatsoever.

Part of the station was burnt down.

The general duties office is in a complete mess without any proper equipment such as desks, chairs and filing cabinet.

Old broken desks and tables are scattered everywhere.

Policeman Steven Sep inside the general duties office at Garaina Police Station. It is in a complete mess and has not seen any maintenance work for many years

 Old files are left lying around.

This is one of the filthiest and most rundown police stations in Morobe.

The walls and the floors have not seen any proper maintenance work carried.

Rats and other insects have taken over the station.

The police houses and the station are slowly crumbling under the forces of nature.

The department continues to turn a blind eye to its current deteriorating state.   

The cell block is a registered cell.

Sep still uses it to lock up suspects and transfer to Lae to appear in  court.

The reservist from nearby Sopa village in Garaina has experienced a lot of hardship performing his police duties over the last15 years.

IFC: US and European tourists are biggest spenders in PNG

The FINANCIAL -- Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, September 21, 2018 — New research shows visitors from North America and Europe are the biggest holiday spenders in Papua New Guinea, with Europeans spending USD$3600 and North Americans spending USD$4000 per trip on average.

Two Italian tourists having fun with local Goroka dancers at the 2018 Goroka Show.~Picture courtesy of Tourism Promotion Authority

The figures were released by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, in partnership with the Papua New Guinea Tourism Association at the 2018 Lukim PNG Nau, this year’s tourism expo showcasing the country.

The research, compiled from the International Visitor Survey, shows travel agents play a key role in North Americans deciding to travel to Papua New Guinea, while Europeans tend to use travel guides and the internet to plan and book their trips independently online.

Drawing on data from six months, the research reveals North Americans are primarily interested in cultural activities and tours, while the market is also an important one for bird watchers. For the North American market, Papua New Guinea is likely viewed as a holiday destination for a “once in a lifetime trip” with the majority of travelers over 60 years of age.

Previous studies have highlighted the importance of Papua New Guinea growing its tourism by developing niche markets such as cultural, adventure and historical tourism.

Overall Papua New Guinea is heavily reliant on the Australian market for tourists, with Australia making up 48 percent of total visitors in the first six months of this year. The Australian holiday market is predominately a mature male market with most visitors between 40 and 70 years of age, and highly interested in active and adventure holidays.

The findings highlight that diving is an important activity for Asian travelers to Papua New Guinea, with potential to increase arrivals to the country from tourists interested in dive and World War Two experiences

Overall, the first six months of this year saw more than 34,600 visitors to Papua New Guinea, contributing some PGK $260 million (USD$78 million) to the country’s economy. That number is set to be overtaken in the second half of the year with Papua New Guinea hosting APEC – the Asia Pacific Economic Forum.

IFC’s tourism work in Papua New Guinea is focused on supporting the development of tourism business, improving tourism-related conditions, and helping attract investment in the tourism sector. IFC is also working with the World Bank to improve tourism services in the targeted destinations of East New Britain and Milne Bay.

Bougainville farmers showcase quality cocoa at chocolate festival

Australian High Commission

Thousands of chocolate lovers have descended on Buka to attend the annual Bougainville Chocolate Festival.

Bougainville Chocolate Festival

Held 21-22 September, the festival is an opportunity for cocoa producers to connect with international markets, and to improve the quality and production of Bougainville cocoa.

Chocolate made from Bougainville cocoa

 In its third year, the event features over 90 stalls, judging competitions and musical performances.

Chocolate made from last year's finest Bougainville cocoa

Speaking at the opening, Andrew Egan from the Australian High Commission acknowledged the growth of the event in just three years and the positive international feedback being received on locally-produced cocoa beans.

Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor Andrew Egan with ABG President John Momis

“Cocoa grown in Bougainville is unique.

"The chocolate made from the cocoa here has a distinct flavour which chocolatiers from around the world are noticing,” said Egan.

Cocoa beans on display at the Bougainville Chocolate Festival

Bougainville cocoa on display at the Bougainville chocolate festival

“In partnership with the governments of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, Australia is proud to support the festival as it continues to grow, and to further develop the local cocoa industry.”

Traditional dancers at the Bougainville chocolate festival

Following previous festivals, international cocoa buyers and chocolate producers are now using Bougainville beans for high quality chocolate in the Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Europe.

A key aspect of the festival is building relationships and sharing knowledge across the industry.

Officials and guests at the Bougainville Chocolate Festival

Chocolatiers and chocolate buyers from Australia attened the event, with three on the judging panel for the chocolate tasting competition.

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research has also been part of a project to improve the cocoa value chain and provide chocolate-making equipment to be tasted over the festival.

Developing the cocoa value chain in Bougainville is part of Australia's partnership with Governments of Papua New Guinea, Bougainville and New Zealand

Many of the smallholder farmers at the festival were recipients of grant funding through the Commodity Support Facility.

Australia provided K10.4 million to 26 farming groups reaching 1300 farmers and their families throughout Bougainville.

The grants are being used to increase the quantity and quality of cocoa, and to facilitate better access to markets.

The Bougainville Chocolate Festival is an initiative of the Autonomous Bougainville Government in partnership with the governments of Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Bougainville’s cocoa industry benefits from improved roads

Australian High Commission

Bougainville’s cocoa industry and wider economy has received an important boost from completion of an Australian-funded project to reseal more than seven kilometres of Bougainville’s trunk road.

Minister for Technical Services Luke Karaston, Minister Counsellor Australian High Commission Andrew Egan, Autonomous Region of Bougainville Vice President Hon Raymond Masono and local Chief Glen Tovirika meet with local smallholders to discuss how the improved road surface supports Bougainville’s cocoa industry.

The K7 million project to repair and reseal the national highway in Tinputz has been delivered as part of the PNG-Australia partnership.

The local community celebrates the opening of the new road.

The works between Iaun Primary School and Pitpit Bridge have also upgraded the drainage and enhanced safety for all road users.

 Iaun Primary School prepares for the festivities 

Ilon Sammy, a local cocoa smallholder, is very impressed with the change that the new road surface is already bringing to her community.

“The smoother, safer road is reducing travel times and improving my connection to markets in Arawa and Buka.”

Minister for Technical Services Hon Luke Karaston, Minister Counsellor Australian High Commission Andrew Egan, Autonomous Region of Bougainville Vice President Raymond Masono and William Nakin Member for North Bougainville cutting the ribbon at the new pedestrian crossing next to Iaun Primary School

Minister for Technical Services, Luke Karaston, values the essential ongoing maintenance of the region’s road network.

“This project is part of Australia’s long term partnership in Bougainville.

Minister for Technical Services Luke Karaston (sixth from left), Autonomous Region of Bougainville Vice President Raymond Masono and Minister Counsellor Australian High Commission Andrew Egan with the contractor at the start of the project

"Together we have delivered improved roads in Arawa and Buin towns, improved the key economic connection from Arawa to Kieta Port, and continue to maintain more than 300km of our national highways across the regions.

“Well maintained roads are crucial for economic development in a prosperous Bougainville.

"I am proud to be able to support our cocoa industry with this project.”

Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor, Andrew Egan, was delighted to inspect the completed project.

“It’s a privilege to be in Bougainville for the Chocolate Festival this week, and to witness on the ground how improved roads can help Bougainville’s cocoa industry grow and create economic opportunity across communities” he said.

The works provided employment and training to 45 local residents in a wide range of roles and was delivered through the Papua New Guinea -Australia Transport Sector Support Program.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Tourism Minister Tammur calls for national pride

PAPUA NEW GUINEANS have been called on to be proud of their identity as they commemorate the country’s 43rd Independence Anniversary.

Tourism Arts and Culture Minister Emil Tammur made the call while opening the 62nd Goroka Show last Saturday in front of thousands of people including 150 cultural groups from across PNG and more than 1000 international tourists.

Tourism Arts and Culture Minister Emil Tammur with  the famous Simbai dancers of Madang at the 2018 Goroka Show.

Two Italian tourists having fun with local Goroka dancers at the 2018 Goroka Show.

Tammur said unlike many other countries in the world, "we are a unique nation of 850-plus unique languages and over 1000 different tribes and cultures".

"More importantly we own 80 percent of the land as individuals, clans and tribes," he said.

"What this means is that we have the right to determine what sort of economic developments we want for ourselves on our land.

"We must use these birthrights to embrace tourism and agriculture developments as real sustainable industries.

"Oil, gas, gold and copper will benefit only a few, including the rich.

"Tourism and agriculture will benefit the little ordinary people right in the rural communities and for a long time into the future."

Tammur commended organisers of the Goroka Show including its chairlady Keryn Hargreaves for continuously and successfully hosting the event over so many years.

He said cultural festivals in PNG were becoming challenging and difficult to host because of the high costs.

Tammur thanked State entities such as the Tourism Promotion Authority and the National Gaming Control Board for their funding support to cultural festivals including the Goroka Show.

He commended the corporate sponsors and other stakeholders saying their continued support would be needed moving forward into the future.

Tammur said his Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture was working on a policy submission to Parliament for the National Government to fund major cultural festivals through the national budget.

He said maintaining and promoting  cultural festivals was "not only important for tourism purposes for our identity as a unique and culturally diverse nation".

Tammur encouraged Papua New Guineans to be positive advocates for meaningful development and change within their own communities by appreciating the decision by the founding fathers to gain Independence for our country instead of being critical of the Government all the time. 

Eastern Highlands Governor Peter Numu MP told show goers it was his government’s aim to revive tourism in his province and bring it back to its glory days as the tourism hub of the Highlands.

He said his government would give priority to the tourism sector in the 2019 provincial budget through increased funding.

He said they would also work with the Tourism Promotion Authority and other stakeholders to grow the province’s tourism sector.

The 62nd Goroka Show under the theme ,Promoting Agriculture and Tourism – Our Culture Our Identity' started with the Pikinini Festival on Friday and ended on Sunday – Independence Day. 

75th Anniversary of Battle of Finschhafen

Finschhafen article in The National Weekender today commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Scarlet Beach Landing and the Battle of Finschhafen tomorrow.

It also promotes Beautiful Finschhafen as one of the best untouched tourism destinations in PNG.

Please click to enlarge and read article below:

Thursday, September 20, 2018

PM announces establishment of interim anti-corruption office

Prime Minister's Department

 Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has announced that the National Executive Council has approved the re-establishment of an interim Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Office.

The NEC has further appointed  Thomas Eluh as the interim ICAC chairman for a period of 12 months.

“A truly functional and effective ICAC, that has real and independent authority, is essential for the good governance of our nation,” O'Neill.said.

“We have seen in the past when attempts to establish such an authority, that protects the public interest, has been politicised and undermined.

“We now have a fresh start with the interim Independent Commission Against Corruption led by a respected officer of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.”

NEC has directed Chief Secretary to Government.Isaac Lupari to provide all necessary support for  establishment of the Interim ICAC office that will report directly to the NEC on its operations.

All relevant files and assets of the former Investigation Task Force Sweep will now be transferred to the ICAC Interim Office.

 This includes the conduct of immediate investigations into the operation of PNGSDP Cloudy Bay investigation, the Community College Project, the National Agriculture Development Plan and other matters as directed by the NEC.

The Acting Secretary for the Department of Personnel Management has been directed to facilitate the appointment of the interim Chairman at Executive Level 4, which is the level of a Departmental Head.

 The   Acting    Secretary, in consultation with the Department of Prime Minister & NEC, will facilitate support to the Interim ICAC Office in the development of its Organisational and Management structures.

The Secretary for the Department of Treasury has been directed to allocate K6 million for the establishment of the Interim ICAC Office, to be obtained from savings made in the 2018 National Budget.

O’Neill said Eluh had a proven track record as a distinguished officer of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, and through law and order appointments in a number of roles.

“Thomas Eluh is a man of sound judgement, and has answered the call of national service as a highly effective Assistant Commissioner of Police, and in managing challenges such as those we have faced in the Southern Highlands province.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Australian High Commissioner visits East and West New Britain


Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis visited several project sites in West New Britain.

These included a new health facility and a cocoa rehabilitation project supported by the Australian Government during his visit to the province from Sept 13-18.

West New Britain Governor Sasindran Muthuvel, Talasea MP Francis Maneke and Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis with staff members of Malalia health clinic. 

Davis was joined by Governor Sasindran Muthuvel and Talasea MP Francis Maneke.

Talasea is one of six priority districts under
Australia’s decentralisation partnership with Papua New Guinea.

Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis with staff and students of Caritas Girls Technical Secondary School in Kimbe. 

 The delegation received a briefing on a new cocoa rehabilitation project under a
jointly-developed Kina Bungim Komuniti program. 

While in Talasea, the group also visited Mama’s Foundation Meri Seif Haus,
Caritas Girls Secondary School, Kimbe General Hospital, Mahonia na Dari
Marine Conservation Centre and remote health clinics at Valoka and Malalia.

Davis visited New Britain Palm Oil Ltd and Hargy Oil Palm.

He inspected processing facilities and a biofuel renewable energy project.

The delegates’ visit to the New Britain Palm Oil biofuel facility.

On Sept 13, Davis joined a PNG Independence Day reception in
Kimbe attended by Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.

On Sept 15, he visited the new Baia Community Health Post (CHP).

This facility will serve more than 4000 people living in the vicinity of Baia

At the Kimbe General Hospital. From left are Talasea MP Francis Maneke, West New Britain Governor Sasindran Muthuvel, Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis and West New Britain Director Public Health Dr Joseph Nale. 

The CHP will include specialist remote area medical facilities, a delivery and post-natal room, toilets and washing facilities and new staff housing.

Thirty-two CHPs are being constructed across Papua New Guinea under the
US$81.2 million Rural Primary Health Service Delivery Project (RPHSDP).

This initiative supports the Government of PNG’s long-term vision to transform the health system, especially to improve the health of rural populations.

Four CHPs are being delivered in West New Britain, at Baia, Vatukele, Wako and Akonga.

The RPHSDP is supported by Australia as a major contributor, as well as the Asian Development Bank, OPEC Fund for International Development, Japan
International Cooperation Agency and World Health Organisation.

Davis then travelled to East New Britain on Sept 16 where he was joined by Minister for Police and Gazelle MP Jelta Wong and
Governor Nakikus Konga.

Davis celebrated Independence Day in rural East New Britain with local communities at Pondo and Vunapalading in the
Gazelle district.
Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis (second right) and Police Minister and Gazelle MP Jelta Wong with other delegates, joined locals in the Gazelle District, East New Britain to celebrate Independence.

He congratulated all Papua New Guineans on the 43rd anniversary of Independence and highlighted the strength of Australia’s
enduring strategic and economic partnership with PNG, particularly in rural and remote parts of the country.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Another classroom falls from the sky

On December 23, 2010 the following obituary appeared in the New York Times.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Fred Hargesheimer, a World War II Army pilot whose rescue by Pacific islanders led to a life of giving back as a builder of schools and a teacher, died here Thursday. He was 94.

His death was confirmed by his son Richard.

On June 5, 1943, Mr Hargesheimer, a P-38 pilot with the Eighth Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, was shot down by a Japanese fighter while on a mission over the Japanese-held island of New Britain in the southwest Pacific. He parachuted into the jungle, where he barely survived for 31 days until local hunters found him.

They took him to their coastal village, and for seven months hid him from Japanese patrols, fed him and nursed him back to health. In February 1944, with the help of Australian commandos working behind Japanese lines, he was picked up by an American submarine off a New Britain beach.

After returning to the United States following the war, Mr Hargesheimer married and began a sales career with a Minnesota forerunner of the computer maker Sperry Rand, his lifelong employer. But he said he could not forget the Nakanai people, whom he considered his saviors. 

In 2004, Fred Hargesheimer visited students at a school he helped build in Papua New Guinea.

The more he thought about it, he later said, “the more I realized what a debt I had to try to repay.”

Wednesday September 12, 2018

75 years after he was shot down and rescued, and eight years after his death, the  Airmen’s Memorial Foundation established by Fred Hargesheimer is still honouring his legacy.

The latest act of benevolence came on Wednesday, Sept 12, 2018,   with a ground-breaking ceremony at Nantabu Village, the village where Fred Hargesheimer was sheltered and nursed back to health.

The ground-breaking is for new teachers’ housing at the village school, a project that will cost US$ 100,000.

The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by Fred’s son Richard Hargesheimer who travelled from Lincoln, Nebraska to administer his late father’s legacy.

 Richard Hargesheimer and his wife Christy (centre) with children and teachers during the ground-breaking ceremony at Nantabu village. 

Speaking at the ceremony Richard Hargesheimer said:“It is a great honour to return once again to West New Britain to serve the people that saved my father’s life.

“75 years ago Fred Hargesheimer was shot down as the allied forces pursued world peace during the Second World War.

“War is never good, but good things do come from it, especially when it is in the pursuit of peace and freedom.

“My father wanted to repay the people, the Nakanai people who saved his life.

“He wanted to honour their kindness with kindness, and what better way to give than the gift of education.

‘So far the Airman’s Foundation has built classrooms and teachers’ accommodation in the villages of Ewasse and Noau.

“My father visited these schools and was always warmly welcomed, and I am sure he is with us now as once again we celebrate the special relationship between him and the Nakanai people.

“We have now come full circle, we are in Nantabu to perform a ground-breaking ceremony that will see the construction of teachers’ accommodation.”

Richard Hargesheimer also acknowledged the work of Hargy Oil Palms in administering and managing the work of the Airmen’s Memorial Foundation.

In a book released for Hargy Oil Palms’ 40th Anniversary, Richard Hargesheimer was interviewed by author Glenn Armstrong.

In the interview Richard said: “Without Hargy Oil Palms there would not be two schools, there wouldn’t be anything. The management of Hargy Oil Palms and their enthusiasm for what we were doing has been absolutely instrumental.

“The last two General Managers in particular – Graham King and Dave Mather – have simply been outstanding. Graham’s interest in education is almost unparalleled and David Mather was extraordinarily supportive – those were the two who I have been most closely connected to.

“They have been absolutely instrumental in seeing that those funds have been put to good use in terms of the school infrastructure, in a tropical area, with books and all other kinds of things, well after Fred’s passing.”

About Hargy Oil Palms

Hargy Oil Palms Limited held its first Annual General Meeting on April 28, 1978 and this year marks the 40th anniversary of the company based in Bialla, West New Britain.

Hargy Oil Palms Ltd provides direct employment to approximately 4500 people, with another 3700 smallholder families benefitting from our knowledge, processing and access to markets. More than 60,000 people are dependent on oil palm within the area served by Hargy Oil Palms.

Hargy Oil Palms’ social obligations includes schools such as those supported by the Airmen’s Memorial Foundation.

The company also recently completed new classrooms, teacher accommodation, a women’s resource centre and undercover basketball court at Pata-Painave Primary School, made possible by a K3.26 million grant from the PNG Incentive Fund, a jointly-managed program under the PNG-Australia Partnership.

Hargy Oil Palms gets its name from Lake Hargy, a volcanic caldera - a largely undisturbed montane, tropical-forest ecosystem in West New Britain.

Lake Hargy derives its name in turn from Major Fred Hargesheimer – the US Airman who was shot down in 1942 during World War 2 and was rescued by the people of Nantabu village. Fred Hargesheimer consequently established the Airmen’s Memorial Foundation to “give back” to the people that saved his life.

Fred Hargesheimer wrote a book about his experiences “The School that Fell from the Sky”, first published January 1, 2002.

The book is available on Amazon, rated 4.8 stars (out of 5 stars) with reviews and links to Amazon here:

Saturday, September 15, 2018

PM highlights importance of agriculture and tourism in Independence message

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has emphasised the importance of agriculture and tourism in his Independence Message.

He said this in his message themed 'Embracing the Future'.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill receiving a gift from East Sepik Governor Allan Bird in Wewak on Wednesday. He is flanked by Maprik MP John Simon, Civil Aviation Minister Alfred Manase and Police Minister Jelta Wong.

"Our country has products that the world wants and needs to buy," O'Neill said.

"This is not just our oil and gas resources, but we have renewable resources that are in high demand.

"Our agriculture sector should be the food bowl of the region.

"We have vast expanses of land, with rich fertile soil that is purely organic.

"We have some of the most amazing tourism sites that people from around the world want to visit.

"But all of this potential is worth nothing if we do not believe in ourselves.

"We must continue to invest in our nation and in our communities.

"This means building the roads that we need to transport our goods to market, to build the airports for our people to travel and to construct the schools that will educate the next generation.

"The only people who can deliver a stronger Papua New Guinea – are Papua New Guineans ourselves.

"As a country we have many friends who are helping us to advance, and we value this support, but we must do things for ourselves and chart our own course.

"We have to have confidence in our potential, we have to make firm decisions on our future and we have to stand by those decisions all the way.

"I give you every commitment, on behalf of our Government, that we will not let your down.

"Each and every day, we will continue to do our best to advance the interests of Papua New Guinea, and continue to deliver real change for our nation."

O'Neill said PNg must prepare its communities to adapt to changes in the modern world.

"This includes dealing with natural disasters brought about by climate change so we can protect our people," he said.

"We must better adapt to the evolving global economy, so that we not only insulate ourselves from economic shocks – but we must take advantage of economic opportunity for our people."

A very special day for Lae

Lest We Forget:September 16 2018 is the 75th anniversary of the recapture of Lae by Australian troops in 1943 from the Japanese. 

This makes this year's Independence celebrations in Lae very special. 

We hope Australia, Papua New Guinea, Lae and Morobe will make that day a memorable one. 

Our young people must know the rich and colourful history of our hometown. 

A place with no past has no future. 

Below is the article in The National Weekender of Sept 14  on the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Lae on Sept 16, and Salamaua on Sept 11 (please click to enlarge)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Treasurer Charles Abel returns from sovereign bond roadshow

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Charles Abel returned to Port Moresby yesterday after leading the international roadshow to market Papua New Guinea's inaugural (first ever) sovereign bond.

The DPM and delegation covered Singapore, Hong Kong, London, New York, Boston and Los Angeles in 10 days.

The PNG delegation (right) at one of the meetings

 In a packed schedule arranged by global lead coordinator Credit Suisse and joint bookrunners Citibank the delegation presented to around 100 global banks and fund managers at seven meetings per city.

"Our international partners have done a fantastic job in arranging meeting and providing advice," Abel said.

"The interest has been really good with full meetings including all the major players.

"Everyone is interested in the PNG story.

"The market for emerging market or frontier market bonds has been rattled recently by the Turkey and Argentina economic problems but we believe PNG has a strong case regardless.

"We are looking at a five year or 10-year benchmark minimum issue of US$500m.

"This is the minimum amount to qualify for the Emerging Market Bond Index and facilitate participation in the secondary market after issuance.

"Now that the roadshow is concluded we will field offers for amounts and pricing (interest rates) before making a final decision to sell the bonds.

"Of the potential proceeds, $200m will go into operation and capital costs and $300m will convert short term (less than 12 months) domestic debt into long term debt.

"This will better balance our loan book and bring in foreign exchange.

"PNG will be looking to establish its brand and yield curve in the international market for the future.

"Since the 2017 Supplementary Budget our Government through the 25 Point Plan has put revenue to GDP on an upward path from 12 per cent of GDP to 16 per cent.

"Fiscal deficits are in a downward trajectory from 6 per cent to 2.4 per cent.

"Debt to GDP is a prudent level of 32 per cent.

" International reserves are stabilised at US$1.7 billion, being 10 months of non mining import cover, and the forex market is coming back to balance. 

"We are working on constraining our wage bill and interest costs.

"Oil prices are recovering well and we are negotiating the Papua LNG, Pynyang LNG and Wafi Golpu projects.

"There are good times ahead for PNG if we remained focused and work hard."

Abel was accompanied by Governor of the Central Bank Loi Bakani, Secretary for Treasury Dairi Vele, Vice Minister and Tambul Nebilyer MP Win Daki and Finschhafen MP Rainbo Paita.